How to Improve Your Career Page Conversion Rates

September 28th, 2017
Jon-Mark Sabel
Employer Branding,
Recruiting Teams

Every job search starts with research. It’s up to talent acquisition to turn that research into an application. But as Jobvite's 2017 Recruiting Funnel Benchmark Report indicates, something's amiss:

Career page conversion rates - the number of site visitors who take the next step and become applicants - fell 22% from last year (from 11% to 8.6%).

Analysts point to two key factors contributing to the decline:

  1. Attention spans are shrinking. Job seekers disengage more quickly than years previous.
  2. The unemployment rate is shrinking. There are fewer numbers of active job seekers, and passive job seekers are less likely to apply.

You could make the case that #2 feeds into #1, but either way, moving qualified applicants from your careers site into your talent funnel is more difficult than last year. And while you cannot control the unemployment rate, you can control how compelling your site is for employed, passive job seekers.

1) Engage Visitors with a Time-Tested Method

Compelling video is a time-tested way to make a website more engaging. It’s proven to increase sales, increase Google search rankings, boost conversions, and increase the length of time visitors spend on your site.

Those last two (boosting conversions and increasing the time spent on your site) are key. Some web pages experience an 80% increase in conversions from on-page video content. While these numbers are not specific to careers sites, the general principle holds: the more time visitors spend on your site, the more they become invested, and the more they convert.

On a careers site, video is a great opportunity to showcase your workplace and company culture. The key here is authenticity: it is very easy for a well-scripted, high production video to come across as inauthentic. The best careers site videos will be created in conjunction with your current employees - they’re the ones who are most invested in your brand. 

It’s easy for a passive job seeker to click through countless jargon-filled career sites. But what if, after watching your video, they thought to themselves: Wow, it’d be pretty great to work with that guy (or gal). 

You’d break through the noise. 

You don’t need a costly video production team, either. CDW encourages their current employees to collaborate in the video making process, giving applicants an authentic video preview of the job. CDW coworkers (in this case interns) film themselves responding to a series of questions detailing their on-the-job experiences. The responses are put together in a montage, and the resulting video is presented before every OnDemand video interview and hosted on CDW’s careers site.

2) Remove Application Hurdles

The easier it is for job seekers to apply, the more they’ll apply. While it might be tempting to think, “any job seeker who doesn’t commit the time to fill out our application isn’t someone we want anyway,” it almost never plays out that way. 

As unemployment falls, the number of hurdles job seekers are willing to jump through is decreasing. A study by Appcast found that applications asking 50 or more questions experienced a 50% applicant drop off, compared to when an application asked fewer than 25. That’s huge.

If your application takes more than 15 minutes to complete, it needs to be trimmed. Do you really need three references right away? Is it necessary to ask applicants for information already in their resume, or on their LinkedIn profile? 

It’s likely only a few of your application’s existing fields are really necessary. Get rid of the rest, and leave the extraneous information gathering for when you’ve found candidates of interest.

3) Reimagine the Job Description

If job seekers don’t know what you’re selling, they’re not going to buy. Most job descriptions are presented as a list of demands, from job duties to previous work experience. 

Very few job descriptions frame the position as a benefit for the job seeker (other than the mandatory “competitive salary” bulletpoint, of course). But those that do receive 3x as many highly qualified applicants

Psychologists refer to this growth-minded job description as “Needs-Supplies.” Rather than demanding an applicant’s abilities, the reimagined job description supplies what the applicant needs. 

While listing job expectations is inevitable - applicants need to know what they’re applying for - focus on opportunities for personal and professional growth. The most qualified job seekers want four things:

  1. Professional development.
  2. Understanding where they fit in the big picture.
  3. A bond with management built on mentorship, not reproach.
  4. A competitive salary.

"Needs-Supplies" job descriptions attract 3x as many highly qualified candidates. Click here to see what they look like.

Your job description probably won’t list a specific salary, at least for now - so focus on providing job seekers with an understanding of where they fit in your overarching strategy, what teams they’ll be a part of, and what opportunities your workplace provides. 

4) Take a Page from a Used Car Dealer’s Playbook

Have you ever browsed Carmax’s website? It’s a fantastic experience. Shoppers can easily filter the used car dealer’s huge inventory by every segment imaginable: location, make, model, year, mileage, cost - all in an intuitive, quick-loading interface. 

Now compare that to your careers site. If visitors can sort through open roles by department, job level, location, preferred experience, and every other relevant way to segment your job offerings, you’re ahead of the game. 

Most search filtering on career sites stops at department, and might include job level and location. Even when search capabilities go beyond the norm, the user interface is often cumbersome and slow to load.

Of all the proven strategies on this list, this one requires the most effort. You’ll probably need to extensively collaborate with your web team to build a Carmax-level search experience. But if Carmax’s recent financials are any indication, the effort is worth it: despite two hurricanes closing stores in major US metropolitan areas, their fantastic online experience pushed profits up 17%.

5) Build Next-Level Engagement (the not-so-proven strategy)

The line between recruiting strategy and marketing strategy has been blurring for years. Strategies that marketers adopt to create leads and drive sales have found a happy home in the world of online recruiting - no one laughs at the notion of “recruitment marketing” anymore. 

So when looking for the recruiting strategies of the future, you might draw some inspiration from your peers in marketing. And your peers in marketing are clamoring for “interactive content.”

What is Interactive Content?

Interactive content is any widget hosted on an organization’s website that visitors can interact with. It might be an ROI calculator, a self-service process framework builder, or a survey with real-time results based on each question. But while an ROI calculator might be useful for a potential customer, it is not so useful for a potential candidate. 

Here are some examples of what interactive content on a careers site might look like:

  • Job Aptitude Test. By answering job-related questions, job seekers can screen themselves in (or out) of certain roles, and are presented with openings that are the best fit. 
  • Career Trajectory Simulator. Job seekers choose a “starting career” and pick available growth opportunities. Based on their selections, they are shown the opportunities for career progression and pick the promotion that best suits them. Then they choose from newly available growth opportunities based on their choice, and the trajectory continues. Think a “choose your own adventure” game, but for careers.
  • "Ideal" Job Builder. Job seekers rank order the things they want most on the job (mentorship, working in teams, etc) and are connected with relevant openings. Job seekers then “Accept” or “Pass” on each relevant opening, and are directed to apply to their “Accepts” once the process is finished. If there are no applicant-employer fits at the end of the process, the job seeker is notified via email when something of interest becomes available.

Interactive content, like the hypotheticals above, takes a lot of work. It requires collaborating and collecting data from multiple different sources, organizing it in an engaging way, and (usually) partnering with an organization that specializes in interactive content. 

Is it worth it? Who knows - it is unproven. Of course, so was the iPhone.

A careers site's primary purpose is compelling visitors to apply. But what happens when you make the application optional?

See "Interview First" In Action

See how one of the nation's highest ranked children's hospitals increased new hire diversity and widened their talent pipeline - by putting the interview first.